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The Duke’s Reappearance – A Family Tradition
by [?]

Swetman’s face grew dark, for his girls were more to him than himself. He hastened on, meditating moodily all the way. He entered the gate, and made straight for the orchard. When he reached it his daughter had disappeared, but the stranger was still standing there.

‘Sir!’ said the yeoman, his anger having in no wise abated, ‘I’ve seen what has happened! I have taken ‘ee into my house, at some jeopardy to myself; and, whoever you be, the least I expected of ‘ee was to treat the maidens with a seemly respect. You have not done it, and I no longer trust you. I am the more watchful over them in that they are motherless; and I must ask ‘ee to go after dark this night!’

The stranger seemed dazed at discovering what his impulse had brought down upon his head, and his pale face grew paler. He did not reply for a time. When he did speak his soft voice was thick with feeling.

‘Sir,’ says he, ‘I own that I am in the wrong, if you take the matter gravely. We do not what we would but what we must. Though I have not injured your daughter as a woman, I have been treacherous to her as a hostess and friend in need. I’ll go, as you say; I can do no less. I shall doubtless find a refuge elsewhere.’

They walked towards the house in silence, where Swetman insisted that his guest should have supper before departing. By the time this was eaten it was dusk and the stranger announced that he was ready.

They went upstairs to where the garments and sword lay hidden, till the departing one said that on further thought he would ask another favour: that he should be allowed to retain the clothes he wore, and that his host would keep the others and the sword till he, the speaker, should come or send for them.

‘As you will,’ said Swetman. ‘The gain is on my side; for those clouts were but kept to dress a scarecrow next fall.’

‘They suit my case,’ said the stranger sadly. ‘However much they may misfit me, they do not misfit my sorry fortune now!’

‘Nay, then,’ said Christopher relenting, ‘I was too hasty. Sh’lt bide!’

But the other would not, saying that it was better that things should take their course. Notwithstanding that Swetman importuned him, he only added, ‘If I never come again, do with my belongings as you list. In the pocket you will find a gold snuff-box, and in the snuff-box fifty gold pieces.’

‘But keep ’em for thy use, man!’ said the yeoman.

‘No,’ says the parting guest; ‘they are foreign pieces and would harm me if I were taken. Do as I bid thee. Put away these things again and take especial charge of the sword. It belonged to my father’s father and I value it much. But something more common becomes me now.’

Saying which, he took, as he went downstairs, one of the ash sticks used by Swetman himself for walking with. The yeoman lighted him out to the garden hatch, where he disappeared through Clammers Gate by the road that crosses King’s-Hintock Park to Evershead.

Christopher returned to the upstairs chamber, and sat down on his bed reflecting. Then he examined the things left behind, and surely enough in one of the pockets the gold snuff-box was revealed, containing the fifty gold pieces as stated by the fugitive. The yeoman next looked at the sword which its owner had stated to have belonged to his grandfather. It was two-edged, so that he almost feared to handle it. On the blade was inscribed the words ‘ANDREA FERARA,’ and among the many fine chasings were a rose and crown, the plume of the Prince of Wales, and two portraits; portraits of a man and a woman, the man’s having the face of the first King Charles, and the woman’s, apparently, that of his Queen.